Finding an Opportune Time to Hold a Canadian Election
The Calgary Zoo wanted to engage the City of Calgary and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, while also supporting its vision of inspiring action to sustain wildlife and wild places. When we learned that the Canadian government named the beaver as Canada's national animal in 1975 without a vote, we knew we had an opportunity to engage Calgarians in a truly important decision – choosing which Canadian animal best represented Canada.
We created a 58-day electoral campaign, starting with a political rally at the Calgary Zoo, which was attended by local media and an actress playing the role of an Elections Canada representative. The seven candidates showcased the diverse wildlife across Canada – the beaver, grizzly bear, whooping crane, bison, grey wolf, rocky mountain goat and great grey owl. Each candidate was given a playful profile on a customized voting-enabled campaign site – Canada's Greatest Animal.
During the campaign period, 15,580 individuals renewed their membership and 10,070 purchased new memberships, resulting in an eight percent year-over-year membership growth. The campaign captured the imagination of Albertans with 11,910 votes cast and resulted in more than 139 million earned impressions from 173 media hits. While the grey wolf was the official victor, it’s clear that all the animals came out ahead, as the campaign succeeded in educating the public about Canada's wildlife and the zoo’s conservation efforts.